For most people, GIFs are a convenient way to watch cats make weird faces and fall off the couch again and again. That's not a criticism. Most of us are simple beasts, drawn to isochronous ritual.
But Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä, both from Helsinki, feel the GIF has a higher artistic purpose, which is at the root of their new project, "As Long as Possible."
They've created a 12-gigabyte GIF of a plain black square that counts from 1 to 48,140,288 at regular 10-minute intervals. A full loop of the GIF will take 1,000 years to complete. A whole universe of cats will live and die in that time.
If the name of their project sounds familiar, that's because they lifted it from John Cage's weird organ project, currently playing at a church in Germany. That won't finish for another 600 years or so.
In any case, van Ingen and Särkelä are trying to get this thing funded so they can display it to the public. And while it's a pretentious conceptual piece that kind of misses the entire point of GIFs, we're all for it. There's something inherently cool and inspiring about people wanting to make things that outlive not only themselves, but almost everything they know or can imagine about the world.
As van Ingen put it, "We're talking about making it run for such a long time that the people who see it finish will have long forgotten about TV or the Internet. Isn't that mind-blowing?"